FORT RILEY, Kan. -It didn't take long for Sarina Nguyen to respond when asked what her favorite song performed by the band Allstar Weekend was. That was an easy question -"Dance Fever," the 10-year-old replied.

It was a little more difficult, however, for Sarina to describe her favorite member of the up and coming teen band.

"I like all of them," she said with a grin on her face.

Having the opportunity to not only watch the group perform, but to meet members of the group afterward was just the icing on the cake for Nguyen, whose father, Staff Sgt. Robert Christian, is currently deployed to Iraq with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Nguyen, her mother, Jan, and her mother's friends, Chrisilyn Hinnah, Amber Tucker and Bobbi Hart came out to take advantage of Fort Riley's free Victory Week festival and concert June 18 on Marshall Army Airfield. All of the women's husbands are currently deployed with the same unit, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th IBCT. The women thought it would be a great opportunity for a friends' night out, according to Hart.

"My girlfriends and I brought the kids out to enjoy the activities. We were pretty excited that the Disney crew was going to be here - something that the kids would enjoy," she said.

The concert and festival was the culminating event of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley's Victory Week -a week-long event celebrating the history and lineage of the Big Red One and the Army and 1st Infantry Division birthdays. The concert featured the Disney bands, Allstar Weekend and Savvy and Mandy, as well as the popular 1970s band, Grand Funk Railroad.

While daughter, Kolena Freeman-Tressider, 7, received autographs from Allstar Weekend band members, Army spouse Rozine Tressider said she thought Fort Riley really hit the mark by choosing the two younger Disney bands to open for Grand Funk Railroad.

"This is just something great for our children. I love that they did this - they did this for our Families and kids this time," Rozine said.

Retired 1st sergeant Kirk Crabtree, who recently retired from the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, seemed equally impressed with the festival and the entertainment.
Crabtree is a member of the Veterans Motorcycle Club. He said the group attends events like this to show support for Fort Riley, the 1st Infantry Division and Soldiers in general.

"This is a great thing the post puts on and this is a way for us to be a part of it," Crabtree said. "The most exciting thing is that it is free entertainment. They've got bands for the kids; they got bands for the teenagers; and they've got Grand Funk Railroad for some of us older people. It's all around good Family entertainment, and it's hard to find in this region. Fort Riley recognizes that - that's why they put on these kinds of events."

Earlier in the day, Savvy and Mandy entertained a group of about 50 Fort Riley teens at Fort Riley's Teen Center. The two southern California sisters, who burst onto the teen music scene in 2008, talked about their career path. The sisters are currently being marketed by Disney on Tour as rising stars.

"We are very honored and we are also very excited to play for everyone, because I think it's such a great thing that they are serving our country," said 14-year-old Mandy.

While the younger crowd enjoyed the music of Allstar Weekend and Savvy and Mandy, the more mature audience sung along to songs like "Locomotion," "We're an American Band," and "Some Kind of Wonderful," when Grand Funk Railroad took the stage.

The songs brought back memories for many people in the audience, including Staff Sgt. Mark Purvis and his wife, D.J., as well as brothers Mike and Steve Lacer, who all recalled listening to the band's music as teenagers.

"Their sound is just as good as it was then. Even though they have changed throughout the years, they're able to do excellent in their presentation," said Mike Lacer about Grand Funk Railroad, which sold more than 25 million records, toured constantly, and packed arenas world-wide during the 1970s.

"I was watching some of the younger bands back there watching and they were learning from Grand Funk Railroad," Lacer said. "I saw them in 1969 and 1971 in Wichita. They've still got it."

"They were fantastic," said Mike's brother, Steve. "I was thinking those guys are like my age and can still do that for an hour and a half. They sound just as good as they did 40 years ago. They were one of my favorite bands. We had all of their albums. It's just really a thrill to get to see them here live. It's a great deal for Fort Riley."

In addition to the concert, a Family festival offered activities like military static displays, a Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard demonstration and events for children including face painting, inflatables and a rock climbing wall.

The event was another way to show support for Soldiers and their Families, as well as thank the surrounding communities in the Central Flint Hills Region for their support, according to Brad Carlton, recreation program manager for Fort Riley's Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"We recognize the commitment and sacrifice that our Families make every day while their Soldier is deployed," Carlton said. "We are keeping the promise to provide safe and quality programs that meet the needs of Soldiers, Families and Army civilians."

Page last updated Sun June 20th, 2010 at 15:25